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The Ethical Life

Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems

Third Edition

Edited by Russ Shafer-Landau

Publication Date - June 2014

ISBN: 9780199997275

512 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $52.95

A compact yet thorough collection of readings in ethical theory and contemporary moral problems--at the best price


Brief yet thorough and affordably priced, The Ethical Life: Fundamental Readings in Ethics and Moral Problems, Third Edition, is ideal for courses in introductory ethics and contemporary moral problems. Featuring forty readings divided into four parts--The Good Life, Normative Ethics, Metaethics, and Moral Problems--it introduces students to ethical theory and a wide range of moral issues. The essays include selections from such historically influential philosophers as Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and Mill alongside work by contemporary philosophers like Philippa Foot, Robert Nozick, Peter Singer, and Judith Jarvis Thomson. Detailed reading introductions provide helpful contextual information. The text is supplemented by an online Instructor's Manual and Computerized Test Bank and a Companion Website with student self-quizzes and additional resources.

Designed as a companion reader to Russ Shafer-Landau's textbook, The Fundamentals of Ethics, Third Edition, this volume is also comprehensive enough to be used on its own.

New to this Edition

  • Three new sections in Part IV that address compelling moral problems: Poverty and Hunger, with a new reading by Jan Narveson; Enhancing Human Beings, featuring new readings by Michael Sandel and Julian Savulescu; and Affirmative Action, with new readings by Louis Pojman and Daniel Hausman
  • Three new selections specifically commissioned for this volume: David Enoch on the objectivity of ethics, Daniel Hausman on affirmative action, and Chris Heathwood on value theory and the desire satisfaction theory of well-being
  • A new article by Raymond Frey defending the use of animals in medical experimentation

About the Author(s)

Russ Shafer-Landau is Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of several books including The Fundamentals of Ethics, Third Edition (OUP, 2014), Reason and Responsibility, Fifteenth Edition (2013), and Ethical Theory: An Anthology, Second Edition (2012). He is also the editor of Oxford Studies in Metaethics.

Previous Publication Date(s)

July 2011


"The best discussion-generating book I have ever used, full of wonderfully thought-provoking essays."--Adam Briggle, University of North Texas

"One of the most compelling collections of original source materials for introductory level ethics I've come across, and I suggest that--although it can stand alone as a course resource--it be paired with selections from The Fundamentals of Ethics for maximum impact with students."--Kelly Heuer, Georgetown University

"This is a wonderful book. It has a balanced selection of classical and contemporary readings in normative ethics, metaethics, and ethical issues. Each selection is of manageable length to cover in a single class period. Shafer-Landau includes interesting, unusual selections (licensing parents, gay sex) as well as classic pieces (Aristotle, Mill, Kant, and Thomson, for instance)."--Richard Lee, University of Arkansas

"This is a very solid anthology for introductory-level ethics classes. It's comparable to Rachels in overall style and analytic approach, but with more personable examples and a sharper division between value theory and normative ethics."--Deke Gould, Augustana College, Black Hawk College, Illinois Valley Community College, and Syracuse University

"This is a concise book with breadth. It contains short readings without sacrificing depth. It's cheaper than Rachels' The Right Thing to Do. It's pedagogically effective, without the overwhelming pedagogical devices of MacKinnon's Ethics. It's edited by a major contributor in contemporary ethics. It's a high-quality book with a low price. It's an encyclopedic pocket book. I will adopt it."--Fidel Arnecillo, California State University, San Bernardino

"A solid collection of essays including a great range of topics and thinkers, covering normative ethics, metaethics, and applied ethics, all at a great price."--Charles Comer, Harrisburg Area Community College

Table of Contents

    *=New to this Edition
    A Note on the Companion Volume
    1. Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus
    2. John Stuart Mill, Hedonism
    3. Robert Nozick, The Experience Machine
    * 4. Chris Heathwood, Faring Well and Getting What You Want
    5. Jean Kazez, Necessities
    PART II. NORMATIVE ETHICS: Theories of Right Conduct
    6. Plato, Euthyphro
    7. Philippa Foot, Natural Goodness
    8. J.J.C. Smart, Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism
    9. Immanuel Kant, The Good Will and the Categorical Imperative
    10. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
    11. W.D. Ross, What Makes Right Acts Right?
    12. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
    13. Hilde Lindemann, What Is Feminist Ethics?
    PART III. METAETHICS: The Status of Morality
    14. David Hume, Moral Distinctions Not Derived from Reason
    15. A.J. Ayer, A Critique of Ethics
    16. J.L. Mackie, The Subjectivity of Values
    17. Harry Gensler, Cultural Relativism
    * 18. David Enoch, Why I Am an Objectivist about Ethics (And Why You Are, Too)
    19. John Corvino, Why Shouldn't Tommy and Jim Have Sex? A Defense of Homosexuality
    * Poverty and Hunger
    20. Peter Singer, The Singer Solution to World Poverty
    * 21. Jan Narveson, Feeding the Hungry
    Euthanasia and A Modest Proposal
    22. James Rachels, The Morality of Euthanasia
    23. John Harris, The Survival Lottery
    Terrorism and Torture
    24. Michael Walzer, Terrorism: A Critique of Excuses
    25. Alan Dershowitz, Should the Ticking Bomb Terrorist be Tortured?
    The Moral Status of Animals
    26. Alastair Norcross, Puppies, Pigs, and People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases
    * 27. R.G. Frey, Moral Standing, The Value of Lives, and Speciesism
    The Environment
    28. Paul Taylor, The Ethics of Respect for Nature
    29. Thomas Hill, Jr., Ideals of Human Excellence and Preserving Natural Environments
    30. Judith Jarvis Thomson, A Defense of Abortion
    31. Don Marquis, Why Abortion Is Immoral
    32. Philippa Foot, Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect
    The Limits of the Law
    33. Igor Primoratz, Justifying Legal Punishment
    34. Stephen Nathanson, An Eye for an Eye?
    35. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham City Jail
    36. Michael Huemer, America's Unjust Drug War
    * Enhancing Human Beings
    * 37. Michael Sandel, IThe Case against Perfection
    * 38. Julian Savulescu, Genetic Interventions and the Ethics of Enhancement of Human Beings
    * Affirmative Action
    * 39. Louis P. Pojman, The Case against Affirmative Action
    * 40. Daniel Hausman, Affirmative Action: Bad Arguments and Some Good Ones

Teaching Resources

For Instructors:

·         Instructor's Manual and Test Bank on CD (9780199997299) – Includes a Test Bank in Word format that includes essay and multiple-choice questions on every reading; summaries of each reading; suggestions for further reading; lecture outlines in PowerPoint format; and web links.

·         Companion Website (www.oup.com/us/shafer-landau) – provides another means of accessing the material from the Instructor CD


For Students:

·         Companion Website (www.oup.com/us/shafer-landau) – features multiple choice self-quizzes to test students’ knowledge of each reading; a guide for suggested further readings to help expand on the information in the book; and web links.


This book can be used as companion reader to the author’s textbook, The Fundamentals of Ethics, Third Edition, at a 20% discount for your students. To order this package, please contact your Oxford University Press sales representative at 800.280.0280 (pkg. ISBN: 978-0-19-938668-0).

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